No matter what happens in the UFC 226 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this Saturday night (July 7, 2018), reigning light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, is still going to retire from mixed martial arts (MMA) next March at the tender age of 40.
And he can do so with his head held pretty high, as “DC” has enjoyed a remarkable combat sports career that began in the heavyweight division and one that may very well end there with a victory over Stipe Miocic in this weekend’s championship main event.
That would not only leave him as just the second UFC fighter (behind Conor McGregor) to hold championship titles in two separate weight classes, it would go a long way in cementing his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of all time.
It would also exorcise the demons of Jon Jones.
That brings us to a very interesting question, and the answer is likely to vary by fighter. Is it more important to be the division champion, or to be the best fighter in the weight class? Sometimes we’re lucky enough to get both (see Johnson, Demetrious) while other times ... well, we just have to wait for things to shake out.
Cormier (20-1, 1 NC) was soundly defeated by Jones in two separate title fights, but “Bones” can’t seem to get out of his own way and by an avalanche of circumstances (and big-ticket victories), “DC” was able to claim the crown.
Most fans accept him as the light heavyweight champion, while also accepting he’s not good enough to beat Jones. And that’s okay, because there is a solid chance Cormier just wasn’t built to be the 205-pound king. Remember, he was undefeated at heavyweight before moving down in weight, and the only reason he abandoned his post was to make way for longtime teammate Cain Velasquez.
In hindsight, he probably should have just stuck around, as Velasquez only competed twice over the past four years and coughed up his crown in June 2015. If Cormier defeats Miocic then we have our answer: “DC” is and always was the man at 265 pounds, regardless of what happened against Jones.
I’ve yet to hear anyone discredit Robert Whittaker for being a formidable middleweight champion, simply because he got finished by Stephen Thompson while foolishly trying to starve himself down to welterweight.
“The Reaper” was built for middleweight and the results speak for themselves.
Cormier, 39, has a chance to make history on Saturday night and cement his legacy in the process. But what will the record books read? One of the greatest champions to ever lace ‘em up? Or the greatest runner-up in UFC history?
Find out here.